My disdain for San Antonio has diminished over the years, but they still bug the hell out of me. Tim Duncan especially, what with his and Parker’s slight theatrics. Neither EVER believes they commit a foul, and both do their darndest to flop whenever they get a chance – and this is coming from a huge John Stockton fan.
But, I respect San Antonio mainly because G-Pop remains the best coach in the NBA, hands down. He runs such a tight offensive scheme that it doesn’t matter which player is on his team, so long as said player willingly gives up his ego. Like Sloan, Pop runs a tight ship, but unlike Sloan, the Spurs coach made significant tweaks to mold his offense into one of the league’s most deadly. The biggest factor: 3-point shooting. The Spurs thrive because Pop allows his players to run the perimeter and drop long bombs from all over the court. (Notice how a man always waits for the ball in the corner – Bowen, Finley and now Green all did/do it.)
Tonight, the Spurs only converted 6-of-22 from beyond the arc, but made them during crucial moments in the game – such as when Ginobli and Bonner hit two long bombs to squash the Jazz’s rally in the third quarter.
Admittedly, those shots were enough to keep me from watching the remainder of the game. Utah didn’t have it tonight, and most likely won’t tomorrow at Energy Solutions Arena. The final score – 114-104 – tells the whole story: the Spurs went up by 10, then 17; Utah came back and cut the lead to six, but then the Spurs would go on a mini-run and push it back to 15, or so. I was reminded of the Utah/Spurs playoff series back when the Jazz beat the Rockets and then the Warriors to reach the Western Conference semi-finals. San Antonio handled D-Will and the gang in similar fashion: they’d push the lead to 20 or so early, allow Utah to go on their runs, sometimes even allowing the Jazz to claw within three or four, but never relented the contest. At the time I remember thinking a 10 point Spurs lead roughly equals a 25-30 point deficit against an average team. (The Lakers did that to us a lot too, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.)
And that’s why they’re number one in the Western Conference.
“They rarely make mistakes,” my dad grudgingly mentioned during the second quarter. So true.
Watching them tonight, though, I couldn’t help but think that the Spurs are who the Jazz could be if they jettisoned their “classic” ways and implemented more 3-point shooting. I know many of our guys are injured (though Carroll played a sensational game, finishing with 16 points), including most of our perimeter players, but Utah needs more, um, Gordon Haywards.
Good ole Gordy only dropped 12 points tonight, but has typically been on target this season. His long arms, and height give him a good advantage over most in his position, and with more experience I see him becoming a player more akin to Ginobli than AK. If we were to get a few more tall perimeter players like him (and if Corbin would drop Sloan’s BS ways and allow his players to shoot more 3-balls), I think the Jazz could very well be the next San Antonio – especially with our current big man rotation, and Devin Harris’ promising play of late.
Don’t take this blog as my official “surrender” on the season. I could see Utah pulling an upset tomorrow against San Antonio, thus keeping them only a game and a half behind eighth seed Denver … and even if they lose, Utah still has nine more chances to somehow squeeze into the playoffs.
But it doesn’t hurt to think about the future of this team … at least I feel better about our current predicament.